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We (humanity as a whole) currently suffer from a window of vulnerability. We're sufficiently advanced to attract attention with radio signals as far as sixty or seventy lightyears away, but woefully inadequate to the task of defending ourselves from anyone who might show up in response.
|-- Real-life aliens would have us for breakfast By BEVAN HURLEY; 19 JUNE 2003; originally found on stuff.co.nz (original link long broken)|
By some five to seven centuries from now we should pretty much be able to take care of ourselves in this regard-- if nothing else, we should have a sufficient contingent off-planet by that time to insure humanity's survival if Earth itself is wiped out.
Hopefully any aliens we meet prior to that time will be benevolent, in which case this entire article would be little more than an exercise in paranoia.
But should humanity find itself beset by malevolent aliens sometime in the near to intermediate future (between now and the twenty-eighth century), and all normal contingency plans fail to remedy the situation, below follow some suggestions for other measures.
This strategy would provide a great wealth of knowledge and ideas for dealing with a wide variety of alien threats, that we could draw upon in the actual event.
Though our best science fiction authors have been doing their part along these lines for years, their work reaches relatively few people, and even for avid readers the process is static and one-way in nature. The interactivity and dynamic branching that software platforms would provide could do a much better job of preparing humanity for the real thing.
A great side benefit of this design would be its educational value-- if the games were forced to be strictly plausible to qualify for subsidies or desirable accreditations of some sort, those playing them couldn't help but learn something of subjects like physics and mathematics, among others.
In order to work most effectively however, this strategy would have to have been in place for decades (or even centuries!) prior to any invasion. That means we'd want to initiate this plan yesterday.
We must assume that an alien threat capable of destroying our species on Earth would also kill off any colonies established elsewhere in our solar system, as well as outposts in neighboring solar systems. But they could not kill what they could not find, or of which they were unaware. A contingency colonization vessel headed for a very, very distant system, largely secret from humanity as a whole to protect the effort from discovery by aliens scouring our databases and interrogating our people here, would provide a last chance for humanity to survive such a worst case scenario.
Such a contingency vessel might be remarkably small and economical to build and launch, as it could be unmanned, with future humanity and a crucial set of support species from Earth existing as frozen, fertilized eggs or seeds, to be grown and cared for by highly redundant artificial intelligences onboard, until a sufficient cadry of suitably educated and mature adults could take over command of the colony, many lightyears away from Earth, and safe from the threat which doomed our homeworld.
Prior to launching the one or several life containing vessels, we might have also sent ships containing critical enabling technologies to the target systems, to serve as supply depots and support facilities for the colony in orbit.
The Deep Mother
The Deep Mother would depend on our ability to install an undetectable artificial intelligence with suitable support technologies deep within the Earth itself, programmed and equipped to do nothing more than hide and survive long enough to outlast the alien occupation, and then rebuild the human race and critical supporting species from the genetic codes in its database, using technologies stored away with it in its vault.
A variation of the Niven and Pournelle Braintrust might be to also bring in the world's master magicians and illusionists as well, to help create diversions or misinformation campaigns, buying us time to implement the meatier portions of our plans, or perhaps helping keep the aliens in the dark on our real designs until it's too late for them to effectively respond to them.
A variation on this theme would be: Create a subtle diversion for the aliens by planting lots of misinformation among our databases indicating an imminent invasion from a wholly different and highly advanced race-- but make these scattered clues so subtle and widely spread only an advanced artificial intelligence (such as the aliens possess) would see the pattern. It's critically important that humanity itself seem utterly unaware of such a pattern existing in its databases, in order for this threat to attain maximum credibility.
We could conceivably send software agents deep into the future to find a way to defeat the aliens in the present, via time travel (or communication from the future into the past).
Of course, this plan depends heavily on being able to infiltrate the alien's computer network, or upon the aliens leaving our own net in operation into perpetuity.
If neither of these avenues are open to us, there might be a third-- though admittedly it would be the longest of long shots. We could put everything we have into assembling an AI similar to that described in the "Deep Mother" above, but with a very different objective in mind. Here, we would do our best to provide the AI with as much free memory space and processing power as we could, to give it room to grow. We'd also provide it with all the collected knowledge of humanity, and perhaps some sort of sensory conduit to the Earth's surface, that would allow it to collect more data in realtime. In this manner might the AI evolve on its own, and be ready to exploit any opportunity it discovered either internally or externally for accomplishing the objectives laid out for it by us, its creators.
The utimate goal would be for our special agent AI to survive far enough into the future that manipulation of past events becomes feasible via new technologies-- technologies discovered by the AI itself, or seen by the AI in the hands of others. After obtaining access to this technology, the AI would then attempt to divert the alien invasion of the past away from Earth, or else repel it with the aid of other advanced tools available from its future vantage point. If neither of these were possible, the AI might be able instead to communicate some vital knowledge to us across time that could enable us to do the job ourselves.
Of course, this plan runs smack into some of the old style time travel paradoxes often referred to in science fiction plots and outdated movies. Fortunately, new insights seem to indicate these paradoxes were fallacies to start with; in the quantum mechanics universe, most (if not all) of these paradoxes don't exist. That is, if time travel itself ever becomes feasible, then a plan like that above could actually work (theoretically speaking).
For more info along these lines please refer to page 68 of the March 1994 issue of Scientific American magazine,The Quantum Physics of Time Travel by David Deutsch and Michael Lockwood.
Since we might not know when possible alien invaders first begin casing us for conquest, making ultra secure encryption ubiquitous over the planet for all communications as soon as possible would be advisible. Think about it: the less the aliens can learn about us, the more uncertainty they'll have about conquering us. And the longer we can prolong that uncertainty, the longer we might postpone a possibly ruinous invasion. And if we could postpone it until around 2600 or so...well, by then we might be able to actually give the aliens a pretty good fight if they want it.
So anyway, strong encryption for human beings worldwide might not only protect us from oppressive governments amongst ourselves, but also from conquest by interstellar beaucracies. And the sooner we have it (the encryption), the better.
We could use the pretense of major political upheavals generated by religious and/or environmental extremists to make it appear world governments have set back humanity's technology base by a century or more, to perhaps confuse the invaders, or inspire in them an overconfidence we can exploit.
A funny and wholly unexpected thing may happen to a snowball which suddenly pops into existence in one type of literal hell (10,000 times atmospheric pressure, such as might be found deep within the Earth). Namely, it might not melt!
It turns out that-- according to computer simulations-- the enormous pressures may actually change the nature of water's molecular bonds, causing the melting temperature of its solid state (ice) to rise from the normal 0 C to 320 C.
Hopefully, humanity too could suddenly find new strength if and when it found itself pressured by a hostile, technologically superior, alien threat.
-- Chances Of A Snowball In Hell; http://unisci.com/; citing Physics News Update, the American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News, Number 473, March 3, 2000, by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein.) [Contact: Eric Schwegler] 08-Mar-2000
|-- The science of eternity by Martin Rees; www.prospect-magazine.co.uk; January 2002|
|-- Are We Alone? by Gregg Easterbrook; The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 262, No. 2; pages 25-38; August, 1988|
|-- Mankind Pursues Forbidden Fruit, Via Computer ["http://220.127.116.11/contWriter/cnd7/2000/04/11/cndin/3444-0004-pat_nytimes.html"] JAY BOOKMAN; COMPUTER NEWS DAILY - NYT SYNDICATE/Cox News Service, found on or about 4-11-2000|
One way we could reduce the risk to us all from insane or corrupt leaders, and boost real accountability and justice in the world at the same time is force everyone in positions of power (both business and government) to be as honest as possible in their words and actions. Impossible, you say? It's not. Indeed, it gets ever more technologically feasible each passing day. For example, there'd be nothing simpler than setting up an overlapping, saturated surveillance of our chief executives so that their every word and action relating to their office or job-related activities could be recorded for posterity and after-the-fact (or even realtime) analysis by independent bodies.
|-- To Cure Fraud, Start at the Top ["http://www.businessweek.com/careers/content/oct2002/ca20021018_8274.htm"]; Businessweek Q & A with Carl Pergola; OCTOBER 18, 2002; businessweek.com|
As for determining the truth in what such folks say or do, that too is becoming easier every day, technology-wise. To see a list of assorted technology leads for this, please refer to Peace, justice, opportunity, and a clean environment for all.
Keep in mind the world would be helped immeasurably more by closely monitoring the actions or detecting the lies of the rich and powerful than doing the same with regard to small-time crooks and criminals. Even serial killers of hundreds of people (or terrorist killers of thousands) can adversely impact society far less than someone like the head of a major corporation or major nation-state can, at this stage in our techological development. The more powerful and influential the person in question, the more urgent the need to insure their honesty and motivations in the position.
"If we show zero tolerance for mugging or speeding, let's also show zero tolerance for crimes that ruin thousands of lives. Corporate corruption is criminal, and we need to root it out."
-- HIH: Time to stop the rot for good ["http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/20/1042911322911.html"] by Harry Heidelberg; January 20, 2003; smh.com.au
If the first place you use this technology is on people like common thieves and murderers, you're starting at the wrong (and least effective) end of things. If the first place you start is with wholesale surveillance and lie detection measures put into place over apparently innocent citizens or employees en masse, then it would seem you're pursuing a downright sinister course-- as the most effective thing that might accomplish is stopping an innocent whistleblower from revealing wrong doing on the part of the powerful. Is this what the USA and other developed nations are in process of doing as of 2002, with legislation like the U.S.A. Patriot Act? If so, perhaps more people should be re-reading George Orwell's 1984. Or Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky. Before it's too late.
Believe it or not, the President of the USA's annual medical examination does not currently, and never has, included even a routine psychiatric examination. Virtually all other personnel expected to endure unusual stresses-- such as FBI and CIA agents, and professional pilots-- must at minimum pass a single such exam to begin their jobs. Not so the Presidency circa 2002, even though psychiatric problems there could literally bring on the end of the world.
-- Their Annual Checkups Should Be Complete (washingtonpost.com) ["http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A3896-2002May10¬Found=true"] By Alen J. Salerian; May 12, 2002; Page B03
-- Federal panel urges screening of adults for depression;The Associated Press/Nando Media/Nando Times; May 21, 2002
-- Fighting Mad Leader Disease (possibly by Rebecca Sloan Slotnick); Science Observer; November-December, 2001
-- Expert warns of dangers of the corporate psychopath Call for screening to prevent scandals by Michael MacDonald; The Canadian Press; August 29, 2002; originally found at nationalpost.com
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